NBA lockout: Salvaging full season a bad idea
Pay little attention to the calendar.
Those canceled two weeks of the NBA season doesn't guarantee a reduced 2011-12 campaign. The current schedule will be scrapped and modified if they reach a deal in time to salvage it.
Pay attention to the calendar.
Despite both sides expressing optimism they can salvage a full 82-game season, NBA Commissioner David Stern acknowledged the likelihood the league might soon cancel mid-November games. More important, rescheduling contests could prove to be as much of a logistical nightmare as it has been in brokering a new collective bargaining agreement.
That's why any effort to retain a 82-game schedule should be tempered. Compacting such a schedule would hit teams, such as the Lakers, with fatigue far worse than when the NBA fit 50 games in the 1999 season in three months. Spreading games out into the summer would prove troublesome for venues, such as Staples Center, because many already have events booked in advance. Such an effort would probably prove too late to implement anyway.
Instead, the NBA simply needs to eat its financial losses.
That hurts the owners ($800 million), players ($160 million) and arena employees (missed paychecks) for the NBA canceling the first two weeks of the season. But that's the price the owners and players stubbornly paid in exchange for what they hope will result in a fairer deal.
The NBA can minimize the damage it's already created. ESPN.com's J.A. Adande proposed they could shorten the season in chunks, perhaps shortening the next five seasons to 76 games instead of a possible 30 for only one season. Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe takes the practical approach, suggesting a 65-game schedule should the season start Dec. 1. I suggest keeping the schedule somewhat as is, while making a few tweaks. That involves limiting the days between games to no more than three and adding the necessary games to teams that were scheduled to play fewer games in the first two weeks outlined in the original schedule.
There are no easy answers. The rest the players enjoyed during this prolonged off-season will quickly evaporate once it's replaced with a compact schedule. The play's quality may decline. And the scheduling nightmares may remain an issue.
But the NBA created this mess. As nice as it is for both the owners and players' union to have enough urgency and will to salvage a season, they should have had that attitude when it would have been more feasible to accomplish the pipe dream they currently have.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Even if center Andrew Bynum and the Lakers can get up and running this fall, extending the regular season and playoffs into late June or July isn't an option with major arenas such as Staples Center. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times